NATURAL PARTNERS IN ASIAN CENTURY :-
- As we complete two decades of the 21st century, a paradigm change in the global power structure is taking shape because of Technology and size.
- Now, potential power is shifting to the two large nations of the Asian mainland, China and India, which are nuclear weapons states and with fast-growing economies. Together they represent 60% of the Asian mainland.
Asia’s Comparison with World :-
- Asia accounts for almost half of the world’s population.
- Half of the world’s container traffic, one-third of its bulk cargo and 40% of the world’s off-shore oil reserves.
- It is home to several fast-growing new economies with GDP growth rates above 7% per year, i.e. a doubling of the GDP every 10 years.
- Asian defence spending ($439 billion) is also much more than Europe’s ($386 billion).
India – China Rise :-
- Since the late 1990s, China and India have been rapidly emerging as influential power hubs.
- Being two of the three most post populous and largest GDP nations.
- Potentially both are poised to fill the role of global powers which is declining in the case of USA as a global power.
What India & China requires to be a global power ?
- To achieve that potential to be a global power, both require hardware, software and the clear mindset for exercising this power.
- As comparison to India, China is way ahead in reaching that level. We are concerned here with the question whether India can reach it.
What India should do with keeping in mind of global perspective ?
Restructure China Policy first :-
- India’s China policy thus needs a re-structuring based on a fresh perspective because the global power matrix has undergone a paradigm change and concerns emerge regarding Indo-Pacific ocean strategic issues.
- The diminishing influence of Western powers in the region, and acknowledged the rising power of China is the new global reality.
- A change in strategic conceptualisation is needed, that is, from the present land-focussed thinking to Ocean-centric articulation.
- As an important part of its diplomacy, India has thus to develop deeper cultural and civilisational linkages with China and the rest of Asia.
Keep Pakistan aside :-
- India is obsessed with the problem of Pakistan-trained terrorists entering Indian territory rather than asserting higher priority on global issues.
- India has the capacity and the opportunity to rise as a ‘responsible and influential global power’. As a collateral effect, this will easily fix Pakistan and its terrorist propensity.
Looking beyond Pakistan :-
- India’s needs to find acceptable accommodation with China for a partnership in Asian peace.
- The U.S. has become a much friendlier nation for India but the U.S is still hesitant to put boots on the ground to fight terrorist establishments. Hence India can help the U.S. fill that growing void in return for the sophisticated military hardware that it lacks.
- The world already is dazzled by India’s prowess in information technology, the capability to produce pharmaceuticals at low cost, and the high quality of its trained manpower capable of innovation. India needs to exert this soft power on global stage.
Need to Acknowledge the Rise of China Power & Importance of Indian Ocean :-
China’s Influence :-
- China has conceptualised and implemented the centrality of befriending all of India’s neighbours and has brought them on board in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- In the Chinese Communist Party Congress in the early 2000s, Hu Jintao, then President of China, had got adopted the goal of developing a “Harmonious Society”, of blending spiritual Confucianist and Taoist values with aspirations for material progress. Since then China developed alot.
- China has also proceeded systematically to bring countries of Asia under its influence with imaginative proposals such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Therefore India needs to acknowledge the growing power of China.
Importance of Indian Ocean :-
- We need to recognise this centrality and primacy of the Indian Ocean in India’s global economic and military activism.the Indian Ocean is the epicentre of global power play in the 21st century.
- With Indonesian partnership, India can monitor the Malacca Strait through which over 80% of the freight traffic of China and East Asia passes.
New Global Power Paradigm :-
If India has to become a stakeholder in this new global power paradigm they have to :-
- Give up its reticence and passive diplomacy and learn to exercise power without being seen as a bully by our neighbours. In brief, India is now poised to form a global triangle with the U.S. and China, and therefore the government must seize the opportunity, which requires a serious effort at reconciliation with China in a give-and-take mode without sacrificing our national interest.
THE ASEAN EMBRACE :-
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi used India’s Republic Day to host heads of state/government of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- As India’s ‘Look East Policy’, matures into an ‘Act East Policy’, a strong relationship with ASEAN have become an economic and strategic necessity.
Comparison of India-ASEAN relations with China-ASEAN :-
- While India-ASEAN trade value stood at $76.53 billion in 2014-15, China-ASEAN trade value reached $452.2 billion in 2016, almost six times than that of India.
- Indian investments continue to remain marginal in the ASEAN region — it was around $224 million in 2015-2016 while Chinese investment over the same period totalled over $3 billion.
What India can do in ASEAN countries ?
- Indian investments in ASEAN have to grow as there has been increased liberalisation and deregulation regarding outward foreign investments. For exp :-The Tata Group already has a strong presence in Myanmar and is already investing in the IT and agricultural sectors, which will create capacity and generate employment.
Infrastructure is a key area where there is much potential :-
- The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project will significantly boost connectivity between India-Myanmar leading up to the rest of Southeast Asia.
- A railway or highway such as Bangkok-Yangon-Delhi has to pass through Bangladesh, making the country an intermediate beneficiary.
Enhanced connectivity between the countries will not only serve India but also ASEAN.
Need of Dynamic and forward-looking policy :-
- Uncertain regional geopolitics coupled with the rise of economies in the region will require Asian governments to adapt to a newer political environment, economic realities, and a different regulatory ecosystem.
- Businesses and governments will have to confront disruptions to traditional employment structures and loss of jobs caused by digital technologies and the impending Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Strategic issues & co-operation among Asian Countries :-
- First, Mr. Modi’s point of engagement with ASEAN is not only confined to trade and is becoming increasingly multi-dimensional.
- Second, India-ASEAN strategic cooperation gets trickier given China’s territorial claim on the resource-rich South China Sea.
- Third, China and India to dominate the Indian Ocean has given rise to maritime rivalry but When it comes to the South China Sea, it is in India’s interest to have freedom of navigation, unfettered access to common waters and respect for international maritime law.
- Fourth, India and the Singapore Navy conducted SIMBEX-17, a week-long bilateral military exercise in the South China Sea in 2017.
- Fifth, the prevailing regional power imbalance created by a declining U.S. and an assertive China, India and ASEAN are well poised to become strategic partners in ensuring regional peace and stability.
India-ASEAN Socio-cultural ties :-
- The presence of the Indian diaspora in almost all ASEAN nations has also helped strengthen ties.
- The Indian film industry has a huge fan base in Malaysia and Singapore. For example, of the editions of the International Indian Film Academy Awards held so far, a few have been held in ASEAN countries. Southeast Asia is even overtaking Europe as a filming location for Indian films.
- With an assertive China driving the Belt and Road Initiative and U.S. disengagement in the region, India has to navigate carefully especially when many nations, including those in ASEAN, are looking for options that promote economic interests and protect territorial sovereignty.
The “Act East” policy needs to be acted upon with a sense of purpose and priority before India can become a reliable and strategic partner of ASEAN.